Road to Junior Nationals

Hey everybody! We are getting everything packed and ready for Junior Nationals! We are heading out to Abilene on Thursday with Shelby and we are pumped! Our travel itinerary for the day is to get to the office around 6am to pack up the car and then head out around 7:30, next (and possibly most important), we will stop in Oklahoma City at the Whataburger for lunch (as directed by Shelby). We hope to be in Abilene around 4:30 that evening to start getting everything set up.

           In this blog post, we are sharing one of our favorite things with you guys: our music! In the office, we are always jamming so we decided to create a “Road to JR Nationals” playlist. We have each included 5 of our favorite songs that we contributed to the playlist. Happy listening & see you in Abilene!

Cassidy’s essentials:

  1. Tall City Blues – Flatland Cavalry
  2. Good Lord Lorrie – Turnpike Troubadours
  3. Elisabeth – Zach Bryan
  4. Rodeo Clown – Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen
  5. Burn it at Both Ends – Randall King

Kendall’s essentials:

  1. Me and My Kind – Cody Johnson
  2. My Texas – Josh Abbott Band and Pat Green
  3. Follow You to Virgie – Tyler Childers
  4. Million Miles – Kody West
  5. 14 Miles From Home – Six Market Blvd.

Abigail’s essentials:

  1. Traveler’s Song – Flatland Cavalry
  2. Panhandle Slim – The Panhandlers
  3. Easton & Main – Turnpike Troubadours
  4. Rhinestoned – Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen
  5. Die Rockin – Whiskey Myers

Shelby’s essentials:

  1. Mississippi Girl – Faith Hill
  2. ALL Shania Twain
  3. Run – George Strait
  4. Cows Around – Corb Lund
  5. Lord Bury Me in Texas – Shane Smith & the Saints

Junior Nationals Prep with the Interns

Hey y’all! We have 11 days until Junior Nationals and we hope you are excited as we are! For today’s blog post, we wanted to update everyone on what we have been working on, what we are excited for and give some advice to all of our juniors in preparation for NJSS! We are so pumped for a great week in Abilene and we can’t wait to see everyone!


What are you working on in preparation for Junior Nationals?

  • As we prepare to head down to Abilene, I am busy getting things together for ALL the contests. I’m doing a lot of printing to get scoresheets and result sheets ready. My favorite thing to do is sort through the prizes as they come in and, believe me, these prizes are NICE!

What are you looking forward to the most at Junior Nationals?

  • I am really looking forward to seeing all of the exhibitors as they compete throughout the week. I loved competing in different contests when I was a junior and am excited to be on this side of the event. I am also super excited to see Flatland Cavalry as they are definitely one of my favorite bands.

What are the essential items on your packing list?

  • Adidas tennis shoes, my flat iron, a quality playlist and of course, a good attitude.

What advice do you have for junior members?

  • Get out there and get to know other exhibitors and don’t be too competitive!


What are you working on in preparation for Junior Nationals?

  • I have been rounding up all the entries over the past couple weeks and double checking everything is correct. Lately I have been spending a large amount of my time to send confirmation emails to every member to make sure their entries are correct. In the weeks leading up to nationals I will be making labels for all the animal’s and kid’s numbers. This will take up most of my time leading up to when we leave for Texas.

What are you looking forward to the most at Junior Nationals?

  • I am looking forward to a fun filled week in Texas. I am also excited to finally be a part of the behind the scenes of a national show. Also, to help possibly make this the greatest week of your summer. It will also be great to finally put faces to names after working with entries for the past month.

What are the essential items on your packing list?

  • My croc sneakers, my Navajo pearls, and Chapstick.

What advice do you have for junior members?

  • Have fun, get out there and meet people from different states!


What are you working on in preparation for Junior Nationals?

  • I finished up putting the exhibitor folder together, so now my primary job is putting together social media posts about contest rules and reminders as well as creating daily schedules to keep everyone up to date while we are actually in Abilene. I have also been updating press releases so that they can be sent out with scholarship, contest and show winners after Junior Nationals. It’s been really busy, but it’s a lot of fun!

What are you looking forward to most at Junior Nationals?

  • I am really looking forward to being behind the camera. Before heading to Kansas City for my internship I did a couple of senior picture shoots for friends, but it has been a little while since I have gotten to photograph livestock and I can’t wait! I am also really excited about seeing Flatland Cavalry and looking forward to a honey butter chicken biscuit from Whataburger.

What are the essential items on your packing list?

  • My camera, earbuds for the drive, and my pillow.

What advice do you have for junior members?

  • Don’t be too serious. I know it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to win, but don’t forget to have fun too!

A Day in the Life of the ASA Staff

Hey everyone! We have been busy in the office getting things together for Junior Nationals. We are pretty excited and hope you are too! Since we have posted a little bit about ourselves, this week we decided to get to know the ASA staff a little more with a couple of questions!

Our first stop was in Amy’s office. Amy serves as the Creative Director for the Shorthorn Country magazine.

Question 1: “What does a typical day in the office look like for you?”

Amy: “A typical day for me includes designing ads, especially right now with the July issue, answering the phones, the mail. Basically anything and everything!”

Question 2: “If animals could talk, which one would be the rudest?”

Amy: “Donkeys”

After Amy, we stopped by to chat with Matt, the Director of Performance Programs, Performance Data & Commercial Acceptance.

Question 1: “What does a typical day in the office look like for you?”

Matt: “I don’t know if there is a “typical day.” There are so many different things that we do. I usually use the first few minutes of every day to catch up on industry and world news; from there, there’s no telling where it could go. It could be data entry, EPD problems, or marketing. You never know from one day to the next.”

Question 2: “Which maroon is better: Mississippi State maroon or Texas A&M maroon?”

Matt: “Mississippi State, 100%. You never forget your first love.”

From Matt’s office, we moseyed down the hall way to see Emily, the Director of Events, Show & Membership Activities.

Question 1: “What does a typical day in the office look like for you?”

Emily: “Well, it depends on the time of year. Right now, I basically come in and do the mail and answer the phones. Once show season starts, it’s a little more hectic because we are getting ready for all the national shows and I often will work on the weekends.”

Question 2: “Who is your celebrity crush?”

Emily: “I have a few. Jason Momoa and Shawn Mendes, but my ultimate one is Charlie Hunnam.”

After Emily, we headed to Shelby’s office. Shelby is the Director of Youth Activities, Marketing and Communications for the ASA.

Question 1: “What does a typical day in the office look like for you?”

Shelby: “I don’t really have a typical day since I do all the marketing and youth activities. It varies on the time of year. For example, as we get closer to Junior Nationals my focus shifts to making sure we have everything ready for juniors while also keeping up with the marketing and communications side of things.”

Question 2: “How many bowls of cereal do you think Seth (her husband) has had by this time today?”

Shelby: “He probably ate his bowl of frosted mini wheats at 10:30, so he is probably looking for his next snack right about now.”

Our next interviewee was Heather, the ASA’s Director of Customer Service, Registrations & DNA. We were pretty excited to hang out in Heather’s office because it’s full of cool things like the office punching bag.

Question 1: “What does a typical day in the office look like for you?”

Heather: “It starts with the daily run, which is the mail and answering the phones. I also check emails through my personal email and the information email, I process DNA samples and check DNA results daily, random things like writing articles for the magazine or other little projects that come up, and I order supplies for everybody.”

Question 2: “Is a hot dog a sandwich? Why or why not?”

Heather: “That’s tough. My first reaction is to say no even though I don’t know why because it has bread and condiments.”

Last, but certainly not least, we stopped by Montie’s office to ask him our questions.

Question 1: “What does a typical day in the office look like for you?”

Montie: “There is no such thing as a typical day because you never know what kind of issues may come up. Breeders have different problems we have to solve so there’s not usually a real typical day. If you were gonna say it’s a “typical day,” it would be being available to all the staff to answer any questions that may arise. If there’s anything typical, it’s making myself available to the staff while servicing the membership.”

Question 2: “What is the most ridiculous fact you can think of right now?”

Montie: “Less than 50% of beef consumed in the US is purchased in a grocery store. Most of it is consumed in a restaurant.”

20 Questions with the Interns

Hey everyone! We are just kicking off our second week in the office and decided to play a game of 20 questions for this week’s blog post

  • Where are you from?

Kendall: Frederick, Maryland

Cassidy: Luverne, Alabama

Abigail: Rome, Georgia

  • Where do you attend school?

Kendall: Oklahoma State University. Go pokes!

Cassidy: Mississippi State University. Hail state!

Abigail: University of Georgia. Go dawgs!

  • Where is where your favorite place you’ve traveled?

Kendall: Grand Cayman Islands

Cassidy: St. Augustine,Florida

Abigail: Uruguay

  • What’s your favorite thing about where you go to school?

            Kendall: The people! It feels like home.

            Cassidy: The traditions, especially the cow bells and Maroon Fridays.

            Abigail: The history behind campus.

  • Pick your preferred cow show footwear?

Kendall: Croc sneakers. I have three pair of crocs with me right now.

Cassidy: Adidas tennis shoes. No other kind. Only Adidas.

Abigail: Tennis shoes are the ultimate go-to.

  • What is your favorite food?

Kendall: Mexican. No hestitation.

Cassidy: Mexican

Abigail: Mexican also, specifically queso.

  • What are your top 3 favorite cattle breeds?

Kendall: Hereford, Brahman, Texas Longhorns

Cassidy: Shorthorn, Simmental, Limousin

Abigail: Simmental, Brahman, Red Angus

  • Red, roan or white?

            Kendall: Roan

            Cassidy: Red

            Abigail: Red

  • What artist is essential in each of your playlists?

Kendall: George Strait

Cassidy: Randall King

Abigail: Flatland Cavalry

  • What is your dream dog?

Kendall: I already have the perfect pup: my mini Aussie, Jeb.

Cassidy: I’m a really big fan of our short-legged Jack Russell, JB, but I want a Border Collie one day.

Abigail: A corgi!

  • What is your favorite major show?

Kendall: Fort Worth

Cassidy: Denver

Abigail: Denver

  • What TV show are you currently watching?

Kendall: Heartland

Cassidy: Yellowstone

Abigail: Longmire

  • If you could live in any period of history when would it be and why?

Kendall: The 70s because of the fashion!

Cassidy: The 80s. I don’t have the hair for it, but I think it would be a good time.

Abigail: The Old West. I think it would be cool to hang out with Doc Holliday.

  • What’s a movie you can practically quote from start to finish?

Kendall: Little Rascals

Cassidy: I don’t know if I could do a movie, but I could do all 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights.

Abigail: Tombstone. Hence the Doc Holliday reference.

  • What’s your favorite childhood movie?

Kendall: Annabelle’s Wish

Cassidy: A Cinderella Story

Abigail: Spirit

  • What is your favorite drink?

Kendall: Dr. Pepper all the way.

Cassidy: Coke zero

Abigail: Sweet tea or coffee

  • Favorite animal (besides a cow)?

Kendall: Zebra

Cassidy: Pig

Abigail: A buffalo. Technically it’s not a cow.

  • Favorite fast food chain?

Kendall: Chick-Fil-A

Cassidy: Cookout

Abigail: Chick-Fil-A

  • What is your preferred social media platform?

Kendall: Twitter

Cassidy: Instagram

Abigail: Twitter

  • What is your go to Starbucks order?

Kendall: Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

Cassidy: Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte with an extra shot of espresso

Abigail: Iced Caramel Macchiato

Get to Know Your 2020 Interns!

Hey y’all! We are Abigail, Cassidy and Kendall and we are super excited to strap on our spurs and mount up to be your 2020 interns. We like to think of ourselves sort of like Texas Rangers. We’re here to support and protect the commonwealth that is the American Shorthorn Association. We’ve been busy in the office sorting cattle (for registration), putting up wanted posters (making the exhibitor folder), and preparing contests for our upcoming rangers (junior members). Each of our current rangers has provided an update for you below!

Ranger Abigail:

Howdy everyone! This first week in the office has been busy, but a lot of fun. My work has mainly consisted of putting together the exhibitor folder for all of our junior members. I have also been getting to know my fellow rangers. They have also been hard at work preparing contests and entries for the biggest shindig of the year, Shorthorns and Spurs! We hope you have your cowboy hats handy, because it’s going to be a wild ride! We can’t wait to see you in the great state of Texas!

Ranger Cassidy:

Hey everyone! I hope y’all are excited to head on down to Abilene soon! I have been busy gathering all the facts and the goods for the greatest week of the year! The other rangers and I have been working to get to know each other and are looking forward to meeting all the other rangers in the breed soon. Kansas City has been fun to explore, even with everything being shut down. Get those entries in and prepare to be in Abilene, the prettiest town you’ve ever seen!

Ranger Kendall:

Hey y’all how is everyone doing?! I have been busy at work my first week in the office. I have been working hard rounding up all the entries to make sure we have the correct information and payments done. I’ll still be hard at work as entries don’t close till May 25th, so I still have a lot of rounding up and sorting to do here in the office. I’m excited to spend the summer in Kansas City and to learn more about the Shorthorn Breed.  Hope you guys are ready to strap on your spurs and join us in Abilene, Texas. If you have any questions regarding entries make sure to contact me or our head ranger, Shelby Rogers Diehm.

National Junior Shorthorn Show & Youth Conference is Happening!

We have stayed in constant communication with the Taylor County Expo Center and Abilene, TX over the past few weeks to learn how COVID-19 would affect the National Junior Shorthorn Show and Youth Conference this summer.

We are excited to announce that they have given us the green light for our event scheduled for June 22-27 as long as we adhere to guidelines set forth by the Governor of Texas and Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene, TX. We feel that these guidelines, are what we all have grown accustomed to, and do not cause significant restrictions that would hinder the enjoyment of the activities for this event.

The Taylor County Expo Center will be taking precautions to be sure that surfaces and areas are sanitized, along with requesting that those who attend continue to follow the safety precautions that we all have been following to protect ourselves.  Taylor County Expo Center is excited for our show and the arrival of Shorthorn juniors and their families.

The staff at the American Shorthorn Association, the American Junior Shorthorn Association Board and the ASA Board, are all looking forward to gathering with the Shorthorn family for one of the best weeks of the year.

The normal office function for the American Shorthorn Association will resume on May 18th. Be sure to contact the office if you need any help registering or transferring animals. Entries are due May 25th! You must have animals in the correct ownership by the entry deadline.

We are working hard to finish planning a great week of activities! The junior board has spent many hours planning for this event. They have updated contest rules and planned for other new activities. This year, Flatland Cavalry, a Texas Country band, will be performing!

We can’t wait to see everyone in June for Shorthorns and Spurs!

2018 ASA/University of Illinois Sire Test Performance Review

Written by: Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs

The National Sire Test (NST) program has been a valuable tool for testing the ability of Shorthorn genetics to perform in a real-world setting. The second year of the NST and our partnership with the University of Illinois provided us with more data on a genetically diverse bunch of Shorthorn sires. Once again, we were able to collect a full set of data on Shorthorn-influenced cattle from birth to rail. The NST provides breeders the opportunity to compare the genetics in their breeding program in an unbiased, real-world setting while gaining more progeny data on their sires to help build a more accurate EPD profile. From a big picture standpoint, the NST gives ASA more information on the breed to show to the industry that our cattle have the capability to be used as a profitable piece of their breeding program.

Timeline and Management

For the second round of the NST, the U of I cows were bred in mid-December 2017. Like the previous year, these females were SimAngus based mature cows that are housed at the U of I Dixon Springs research farm in the southern region of Illinois. With 10 Shorthorn sires bred to 20 cows each, we were able to utilize 200 cows for this second cycle. The calving season began on August 30, 2018 and went through October 2. From a 52% AI conception rate, 94 calves were born. As these calves were raised up to weaning, they were asked to grow solely on mother’s milk, and the cows had to raise these calves on minimal supplementation.

Weaning day came about 3 weeks later for the 2018 crop than their previous year counterparts, with March 7, 2019 being this year’s recorded weaning date. The calves ranged from 156 to 189 days of age at weaning, up 23 to 30 days over the 2017 crop. Once again, the calves were preconditioned at Dixon Springs before being sent off to college to complete the feedlot portion of the NST on the U of I Beef Farm just off campus. They enrolled in the feedyard on May 8, and graduated 216 days later on December 10. The feedlot at U of I is a fully under roof facility, with slatted floors for waste management and rubber matting covering the floor to provide extra comfort to the cattle. The NST calves are grouped by sex and entry weight into feeding pens of 12-15 head. Each pen is equipped with a GrowSafe feed bunk to collect daily individual intake data on the calves. All cattle were implanted at the beginning of the feeding period, as well as re-implanted near the midway point of the test. The feedyard ration was approximately 0.65 Mcal/lb from an energy standpoint, and the ration consisted of approximately 30% dry rolled corn, 20% wet distiller’s grains, 20% high moisture corn, 20% silage, and 10% corn-based supplement. The NST calves went to the Tyson plant at Joslin, IL for harvest on December 12. Initially, the cattle were expected to go to harvest a little earlier. However, the fat cattle market situation at the time led to holding onto these cattle a little longer, trying to catch a better market and more revenue per head.

The Data

On the next page, you will find a table comparing the data for the NST heifers and steers separately. With each bull not having equal numbers of male and female progeny, it’s not a fair comparison to lump all offspring together. Like always, I prefer to let you as breeders draw your own conclusions from the data rather than tell you what should be important. Nobody knows your operation better than you and what you want to emphasize in your breeding program. From studying the data in general terms, there are a few “big picture” points I would like to touch on.

For the second year in a row, calving ease was a major strength of the NST sires. The cattle posted a 99% unassisted calving record this year. While the U of I herd at Dixon Springs is pretty hands-off when it comes to assisting their mature cows, it’s nice that these cows could have Shorthorn calves on their own with industry acceptable birth weights.

The NST cattle met industry standards for carcass merit once again. The entire crop averaged a 13.6 sq. inch ribeye area, with an average marbling score of 519. For those of you who are less familiar with the marbling score system, a score of 400 is needed for a carcass to be considered to grade USDA Choice. Scores above 500 reach the upper 2/3 of the Choice grade, which is often talked about being the “new goal” in beef quality grading. In this year’s NST crop, 97% graded Choice or higher, with 47 head having marbling scores great enough to qualify as upper 2/3 Choice or better. In fact, 11 head graded USDA Prime. While there are some strong marbling genetics in the cow base, it is nice to see Shorthorn sires complement those black hided cows and still produce carcasses that garner a premium on the rail. From a Yield Grade (YG) perspective, only 12 head were YG4 or higher. Cattle that reach YG4 or 5 are the ones that take discounts on the carcasses, and the percentage of NST cattle to do that was small.

When studying the Dry Matter Intake (DMI) and feed to gain (F:G) data of the 2018 NST, the picture doesn’t look as pretty as the previous class. For both steers and heifers, DMI was increased and F:G was lower than 2017. However, if you look at the small differences in the test, I think it starts to make sense. The calves in this round of the trial were on feed for an additional 4 weeks compared to the first set of NST calves. The 2018 calves stayed on feed later in their life cycle, when cattle naturally start to become less efficient in their growth. While there probably are still some differences in feed conversion between bloodlines in the two years’ sire groups, I believe the timeline and the natural growth curve also played a role in the changes in these data points.

What Did We Learn?

Much like last year’s review of the first NST calf crop, I think I am asking a question with several answers, none of which can be considered “wrong”. From a breeder perspective, you might have seen something in the data to identify your next AI sire. From an industry view, we once again had cattle perform well enough to meet standards, showing that Shorthorn genetics can do things well to be commercially productive. From my chair at the association, I learned that we have breeders that are really interested in the information that the NST provides us. Inquiries and discussions with breeders who have participated in the program, as well as those who are interested in studying the data, give me optimism that we can work together to attempt to grow Shorthorn commercial acceptance. It takes buy-in from all sides to make that happen, and having breeder interest is crucial.

With two full sets of NST data in the books and one more calf crop going through the program, I feel like we are starting to get a clearer picture of where the breed stands in crucial areas needed to gain commercial acceptance. With a sire evaluation program like the NST, it’s important to gather information to compare and back up the genetics with relevant data. The University of Illinois has been a great partner in accomplishing that goal. The unbiased data collection and results give our breed some information to validate our cattle’s commercial acceptability. The calving ease, carcass, and feed efficiency components are helping us do that.

I want to thank the ASA Board of Directors, past and present, for seeing the need for this type of program and supporting it, as well as the breeders who have nominated their bulls to collect this information. We have one more year of data to collect with the U of I, and I’m looking forward to see how that information helps us keep building our Shorthorn resume’ for the American cattle industry.

Keeping Calves the S.A.M.E.

Written by: Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs

The topic of proper data reporting is one that is very important, yet also can be overwhelming and a hassle to many breeders. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what to do when turning in your weights and data to ASA. I’ve learned that no matter how many times this topic gets covered, it’s usually not enough times! It’s been a couple years since we discussed this topic in the Shorthorn Country, so it might be time for a good review.

The best memory device I’ve seen to help with contemporary grouping is the acronym S.A.M.E.

S.A.M.E.: Sex, Age, Management, Environment. Simply put, cattle that are treated the same should be contemporary grouped the same!

A contemporary group (CG) is the largest it can ever be when you put them together during calving season. That makes it extra important to get your contemporary groups correct at birth to build on as the calves go through life. All the calves born in the same season should be grouped together, provided they were run under the same management. If one set of cows is on full feed while the others just grazed, then the calves from those cows should be split accordingly. When inputting calf data, Digital Beef will separate male and females calves into their own groups for you. You can use the “Season” dropdown menu to differentiate groups from each other within your herd (like the fed cow pasture vs the grazing pasture). The “A, B, C and D” designations don’t necessarily correspond to actual seasons, but rather are just a method to input your different groups the way they need to be.

It’s inevitable that animals will be removed from a contemporary group over time. Whether it’s a calf that gets sick and requires extra attention, or a couple calves are brought to the barn as show prospects, group those cattle that get treated differently than the rest as their own contemporaries. If you bring in a bull calf and start feeding him a show ration to prep for state fair, you would expect him to outweigh your calves that are on pasture and light creep. It would not be a fair representation of the data to keep him in the same CG as all his buddies that didn’t come to the show barn. The show calves would need to be removed from the main CG and separated into their own smaller group. Contemporary groups are not a “mix and match” task, where you can pull animals out and put them back in once they’re back in the same pasture again. Once an animal leaves a CG, it can’t go back to the old one. The bull calf you took to state fair can be turned out in the development lot with the other yearlings after his show career, but he remains in his own CG for data recording purposes.

Even if all your calves don’t grow and perform like you hoped, it’s important to submit the data on all calves, heavy and light. There’s a reason it’s called WHOLE Herd Reporting. It’s fairly common for cattlemen to not report their worst calves, because they don’t want to bring down the group average and have other breeders see their “bad” calves. If all the calves are treated the same, then ALL the calves should be reported, good, bad or ugly. If you are a WHR breeder, the assessment fee on your cows covers the registration of her calf, so choosing not to submit the poor calves is not really a way to lower your registration bills. If you don’t want to give the weaker calves a registration number, you can simply uncheck the “Register?” box when submitting calf data into Digital Beef, and the system will record your calves with a “U” number and not fully register them.

A pitcher who can throw an 87 mph fastball doesn’t look very good in the population of professional baseball players, where 95 mph throwers are pretty common. If you compare him to the entire population of men in the country, that 87mph heater looks pretty good again! That’s what happens when you don’t record those less than desirable calves in your crop. It doesn’t help your best show just how good they really are!

The chart below gives a visual example of how much effect removing the bottom can have on performance ratios, and in turn, EPD calculations.

For a contemporary group to be an effective sire evaluation tool, there needs to be more than one sire represented in the group. While you can still make comparisons of the individuals and their dams, a CG with only one sire doesn’t tell you very much on the bull. All the good performing calves are his, but so are all the bad ones! The best way to have multiple sires in a group would be to incorporate AI into your breeding program, then turn those cows out with a walking herd sire afterwards.

The task of contemporary grouping can be confusing, cumbersome, and downright boring for some breeders! However, proper CGs are also crucial and necessary for getting the best data possible into the Shorthorn genetic evaluation. As Shorthorn breeders, we should all want the best genetic evaluations possible. If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to reach out and ask. The worst questions are the ones that are never asked.

Are You Listening?

Written by: Matt Woolfolk, Director of Performance Programs

The title of the article is always my opportunity to grab your attention, hoping you’ll read my monthly column. In this instance, I’m not worried about if you are listening to me, but rather the customers that show up to your farms and ranches to buy cattle. There’s one media publication that is trying to get the bull customer to talk about what they want, and their report gives us a chance to listen. 

For the past six years, BEEF Magazine has put together a project titled The Seedstock 100. The project was printed in the January 2020 issue of BEEF Magazine. The Seedstock 100 sets out to identify those producers across the United States who merchandise the most bulls into the marketplace. This list of elite bull marketers ranges from selling 230 bulls in 2019 to almost 4,000 young sires, and can be found in 23 states coast to coast. Within the breeding programs of the Seedstock 100, there are 33 different breeds, composites, or hybrid breeds of cattle listed. Unfortunately, neither Shorthorn nor ShorthornPlus are included in those 33 bull breed types. 

As part of their publishing of the Seedstock 100 list, BEEF also included some findings from a producer survey in regards to genetic makeup, purchasing demands, and management practices in their operations. The summary article compiled by BEEF writer Wes Ishmael was pretty enlightening. I encourage you to go read the whole report, if you can. While treating the responses to any survey as pure gospel is always a cautionary tale, it is still interesting to look at the responses from commercial producers in hopes of identifying a potential trend.

According to respondents to this survey, 72% of their cow herds were classified as mostly straightbred British or British crossbred females. From that subset of cattlemen, 97% of those straight and British crossbred cattle were classified as Angus (73%), Red Angus (15%) or Hereford (9%). When it comes to bull purchasing, the responses to this survey indicate that those same three breeds make up 84% of the bulls most recently purchased. Those same three breeds also dominate the responses for the breed of choice for bull purchases in the next three years.  When asked if they planned to change the breed composition of their cow herd over the next five years, only 22% indicated that they were planning to do so. Eighty-five percent of responses indicated raising their own replacement females, while 68% market their feeder cattle at auction. In terms of retained ownership, 18% indicated that they keep ownership of their calves. 

When it comes to data and information to make a bull buying decision, birth and calving ease information are most valued in this survey. Seventy eight percent want to know the actual birth weight of the calf, while more respondents want the EPD for Calving Ease Direct (77%) than they do Birth Weight (71%). Buyers prefer an actual weaning weight (63%) over a 205-day adjusted weight (55%), and 62% of buyers want access to a WW EPD. Albeit by a small margin, more responses indicated wanting a disposition score over a yearling weight (54% vs 51%). When it comes to the use of selection indexes, 56% of the respondents “routinely” use these tools to identify potential bulls to buy. In terms of priority of index type, maternal (44%) was the most popular, followed by end product/carcass (39%) and multipurpose (31%). Eighty-two percent of responses say that the information provided to them by the seedstock producer is understandable, while only 14% say that the information is too complicated. Only one in four responses indicated they needed a genomic profile on a bull, while 46% of responses use genomic data in their bull selection. That tells me that while they may not require the information, if genomic information is available, they are fairly likely to use it. As Wes Ishmael said himself in the article, “The idea that about half of bull buyers use genomic data in selection would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.”

While this is a lot of information to digest, I think it lends some wisdom on what the customer is thinking. Truthfully, I don’t agree with everything that we see in the results of this survey, but that’s just the number crunching side of me showing. However, if gaining commercial acceptance as a breed is an avenue we would like to pursue, I feel that knowing the mindset of the customer can help you get there. That is the reasoning behind ASA collecting data at NCBA Convention and in our own commercial survey.  The dominance of British genetics is not a surprise, and certainly offers us a challenge as a British breed fighting in the 3% that the Big Three don’t occupy. However, with the survey indicating that one out of five cattlemen are looking to make changes to their herd’s genetic makeup, opportunity is available for a breed that offers unique, useful traits. With the increasing value being placed on docility (and Shorthorn’s natural propensity to for good docility), there might be an opening for the right kind of Shorthorn cattle to make a market impact. While nobody but your customer can tell you what the right kind of Shorthorn is, the responses to this survey show what type of information a bull buyer asks for and the type of cow herd most bulls are getting used in. Fortunately for you, being a part of the American Shorthorn Association offers you the opportunity to give them all the things they asked for through this BEEF Magazine survey.